Saturday, November 29, 2014

Florida Man Pleads Guilty To $1.5 Million Embezzlement Scheme

From the Associated Press on 11/29/2014:

A central Florida man faces 20 years in prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million from a local art gallery.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that 48-year-old Jeffrey Hall of Maitland has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and agreed to pay restitution for the embezzlement scheme.

Authorities say Hall used his position at the art gallery over a two-year period to divert proceeds from artwork sales to his own personal bank accounts. According to court documents, he also used the gallery’s artwork as collateral for himself and sold some of the pieces on eBay.

Hall is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 19. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Michigan Podiatrist Loses License After $135K Embezzlement Conviction From "Vulnerable Adult"

From MLive on 11/28/14:

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has immediately suspended a Portage podiatrist's license based on her conviction on embezzlement charges Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.

Dr. Regina Lynne Spears, also known as Regina Lynne Spears-Everett, was convicted on July 11 of one count of embezzlement from a Vulnerable Adult — $20,000 or more, a felony and sentenced in Sept. 9, 2014, to serve nine months in jail, five years probation, and ordered to pay fines, costs and restitution totaling $169,572.18.

From January 2010 to January 2011, Spears-Everett, 51, stole more than $135,000 in cash from the life savings of Toni A. Verdries, a 91-year-old woman with dementia who Spears-Everett is believed to have first met in the 1990s at a doctor's office.

It took a jury less than two hours to find Spears-Everett guilty.

According to prosecutors and an investigation by the Portage Department of Public Safety, the doctor lavished some of the money she took on friends and family--   including an $18,000 car for a friend and $21,500 to pay a relative's outstanding debt.

She spent more than $2,500 on chocolates from a fudge company in South Carolina, authorities said.
Michigan's Public Health Code provides for the mandatory summary suspension of a health professional's license upon the conviction of a felony.


Read the whole story here.

New Mexico Woman Charged With Embezzling $200+K From Magazine

From the Associated Press on 11/27/2014:

A bookkeeper is accused of embezzling more than $200,000 from an Albuquerque lifestyle magazine.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( that 50-year-old Bonnie Burchell was released on bail Wednesday on a felony charge of embezzlement.

According to a criminal complaint, the publisher of Albuquerque the Magazine says an audit found Burchell had been paying herself three times her salary between March 2012 and this summer.
She also is accused of making more than 30 deposits from the magazine into her bank account and an account in her ex-husband's name.

Tom Clear, an attorney for Burchell, told police that she had evidence showing the magazine had committed tax fraud.

But Burchell was arrested Tuesday.

A call to Clear went unreturned Wednesday.

Burchell was hired in December 2011.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fraud Talk Episode To Focus On Resume Fraud and the Top Ten Resume Lies

Join me Monday, December 1st at 10 a.m. EST for our next Fraud Talk episode which will be all about Resume Fraud and the Top Ten Resume Lies.  My special guest will be Wendy Pickering Sullivan, my old colleague at Kroll Associates and an expert in due diligence investigations, background checks and fact finding. We will also feature some case studies and stories, including some from our Resume Liar's Club.  Listen live or at your leisure to the audio file here: 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling More Than $500K From Trucking Concern

From the Great Bend Tribune on 11/25/2014:

A La Crosse woman pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $500,000 from the company where she worked, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Crystal Lynn Jones, 34, La Crosse, pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen money. In her plea, she admitted the crime occurred from 2008 to 2013 while she was officer manager for Teel’s Trucks at 1200 Vine Street in Hays. She wrote unauthorized checks from Teel’s company accounts at Commerce Bank and the Bank of Hays for her personal benefit. She also conducted transfers on the Automated Clearing House electronic network from Teel’s accounts for her own personal benefit. She hid the thefts by altering entries on the company’s accounting software and by forging checks.

Sentencing is set for March 2, 2015. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Grissom commended the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Hathaway for their work on the case.

Former Delaware Bank CEO Sentenced In $1.5 Million Fraud Case

From the News Journal on 11/25/2014:

A former bank chief executive was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for a scheme involving the use of his bank's money to pay personal debts.

James A. Ladio, 58, who founded and headed MidCoast Community Bank in Wilmington, received what some considered a stiff sentence, considering his substantial cooperation into the federal investigation of Wilmington Trust Co.

Ladio pleaded guilty last year to two counts of bank fraud and two counts of money laundering. He had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews for home detention or community confinement. Instead, Ladio will report to prison on Jan. 9.

"This is a tough day for me," said Ladio, who seemed more self-assured than he did at his plea hearing last year. "I will never, ever be able to accept the actions I did. Remorse is something that eats you from inside."

Ladio said he had gotten himself into "desperate financial circumstances" following years of mounting debt that began with a divorce. In a letter to the judge, Ladio said the debt was always manageable until he invested beyond his means in the start-up of MidCoast. When the recession hit, he was forced to borrow more money to meet his loan obligations, he said.

Unable to pay the loans he owed Wilmington Trust, Ladio convinced two MidCoast customers to withdraw loan proceeds from the bank and turn the money over to him as private loans, prosecutors say. He then used the private loan money to pay off his obligations at Wilmington Trust.

The "agonizing" reflection Ladio did over the last year resulted in the decision to make amends, he told Andrews. That meant cooperating with the government in its Wilmington Trust probe and starting a business that would allow him to repay his debts.

"During this time, I decided to move forward – I willed myself," Ladio said.


Read the whole story here.

Former Credit Union Manager In Kansas Ordered To Pay Restitution In $173K Embezzlement Case

From the Lawrence Journal on 11/25/2014:

Former Jayhawk Federal Credit Union manager Karolyn J. Stattelman, 43, of Topeka, was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $173,600 in restitution after pleading guilty in June to one count of theft from a credit union....

Mississippi Man Indicted On Charges He Embezzled $100+K From Juvenile Detention Center

From WJTV Ch. 12 on 11/25/2014:

A Natchez resident is facing embezzlement charges following indictment by an Adams County Grand Jury.

42-year-old Charles Nations was arrested Monday on one county of embezzlement, according to Attorney General Jim Hood.

 The indictment alleges that Nations, while serving as the Director of the Adams County Juvenile Justice center, embezzled more than  $100,000 from bank accounts that belonged to the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center.

Nations will be arraigned Wednesday morning in Adams County.

If convicted, Nations faces up to 20 years behind bars and a $5,000 fine.

Wisconsin Woman Shot By Police In Domestic Dispute Suspected Of Embezzling More Than $100K

From the Leader-Telegram on 11/24/2014:

The woman shot to death by a Boyceville police officer on a domestic disturbance call earlier this month was under investigation for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000 from her employer.

Shonda E. Mikelson, 33, 469 Main St., died after police say she displayed a rifle and a replica handgun to an officer.

“Sadly, we’ll never know what she was thinking or what transpired,” Menomonie police Chief Eric Atkinson said of the shooting.

At the time of her death, Menomonie police were investigating allegations that Mikelson racked up bills on company credit cards at her former employer, DKS Construction, 2520 Wilson St., in Menomonie, where she was an office manager. She also was accused of cashing a check made out to company owner Dale Schmitz and paid herself overtime she did not work, according to police records.
“We were at the point of the investigation we felt ready to go to the district attorney’s office and seek charges,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said there was another person of interest in the investigation, but there was insufficient evidence to charge that person.
The investigation records were made public after Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf determined there was insufficient evidence to sustain charges after Mikelson’s death.
Police records indicated the charges Schmitz reported as fraudulent included multiple purchases from online retailer Amazon, restaurants, and other personal purchases totaling $117,063. One charge was for a pickup truck bed cover and bed rails for the type of pickup owned by her boyfriend, Timothy Fern, according to police reports.


Read the whole story here.

Montana Woman & Family Plead Guilty To Embezzling $132,500 From Municipality

From NBC Montana on 11/25/2014:

A 59-year-old Brockton woman, her husband and two daughters have pleaded guilty to their roles in embezzling more than $132,500 from the town of Brockton on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
Desiree Lambert pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls to fraud, embezzlement and aggravated identity theft. Her 66-year-old husband Bernard Lambert and adult daughters Kaycee and Kayla pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Desiree's embezzlement.
Desiree Lambert was the business manager for the Town of Brockton. Prosecutors say in December 2012 Desiree Lambert began writing municipal checks payable to herself and family members and forged the mayor's signature on the checks. The money was used for gambling and to supplement the family's lifestyle.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled sentencing for March 5.

Update (3/15/2015): Lambert and her husband and two daughters sentenced for embezzling from the town of Brockton.  From the Associated Press:

Four members of a Montana family have been sentenced to federal prison on charges related to the embezzlement of more than $132,500 from the town of Brockton on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Desiree Lambert — the town's 59-year-old former business manager — received a term of almost four years during a recent hearing in Great Falls before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. She pleaded guilty in November to fraud, embezzlement and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say she forged the mayor's signature to write municipal checks payable to herself and family members.

Authorities said the family spent the money for gambling and household items.

Lambert's husband, Bernard, received a 20-month term with three years of supervised release.
Daughters Kaycee, 35, received six months in prison followed by six months in home confinement and Kayla, 30, received five months in prison followed by five months in home confinement. The three had previously pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the embezzlement.

To conceal the theft, Lambert told prosecutors, she transferred into municipal accounts nearly $130,000 in federal money the town received to augment its public safety budget.

The embezzlement came two years after Lambert and her husband were released from probation in a 2007 conviction in another embezzlement case in which $12,000 was taken from the Fort Peck Tribe.

Lambert, then the director of the Fort Peck Department of Education, provided checks to her husband, who was then superintendent of the Brockton School District, supposedly to write 10 grant applications on behalf of the education department. The applications were never turned in and the Lamberts provided no proof they were ever written, prosecutors said.

Desiree and Bernard Lambert were each sentenced to a year in prison in the case. Desiree Lambert was ordered to pay nearly $14,000 in restitution and her husband was ordered to repay $12,000.

The couple acknowledged that $8,500 of the $12,000 went to pay tuition for daughter Kayla, who planned to play basketball at the University of Montana but didn't pass enough classes to join the Lady Griz.

Former Connecticut Municipal Councilman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling More Than $100K

From WTNH Ch. 8 on 11/24/2014:

A former West Haven City Councilman admitted Monday to stealing more than $100,000 in an embezzlement scheme.

Stephen DeCrescenzo, 37, of West Haven, waived his right to an indictment and plead guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of wire fraud stemming from an embezzlement scheme.

According to court documents, DeCrescenzo was working as a personal banker at JP Morgan Chase in New Canaan. Between September of 2008 and November of 2011, DeCrescenzo embezzled $106,028 in funds from customer accounts by transferring the funds into a separate account to which he had access.

As part of the deception, DeCrescenzo disguised numerous withdrawals from the accounts as authorized cash withdrawals by customers when, in fact, he had stolen the money, officials said. DeCrescenzo also wired funds stolen from a customer account into another bank account of his own.

DeCrescenzo faces up to 20 years in prison. He is free on $50,000 bond. He is due back in court for sentencing on February 17, 2015.

DeCrescenzo, who was a member of the West Haven City Council, resigned from the Council on Monday.

Update (2/17/2015): DeCrescenzo was sentenced to three years of probation.  He reportedly blamed his actions on gambling.  Read an update of the story here.

$584K Embezzlement Alleged At Popular Restaurant In Chicago

From Crain's Chicago Business on 11/24/2014:

A principal investor at the popular Purple Pig restaurant just off North Michigan Avenue has filed suit against the business's other partners: Jimmy Bannos Sr., Jimmy Bannos Jr., Gary Veselsky and Tony Mantuano, along with the restaurant's general manager, Laura Payne, for violations including embezzlement, breach of fiduciary duty and unlawfully destroying records.

The suit, filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court by chef and restaurateur Scott Harris, alleges that Bannos Sr. and his son, Bannos Jr., who is Purple Pig's executive chef, engaged in “intentional mismanagement and wrongful conduct” by making improper payments to themselves and other partners totaling more than $584,000 between Jan. 1, 2010, and Nov. 20.

The suit alleges that the Bannoses used those improper distributions to pay for home repairs, auto-related expenses, an engagement party for Bannos Sr.'s daughter, health insurance and “abusive spending” at the James Beard Awards banquet in New York. Harris also alleges the Bannoses used the Purple Pig credit card for personal and family vacations, nonbusiness dinners, personal meals, computers, home-improvement projects and auto-related purchases.

Further, the suit claims, Bannos Sr. directed improper payments to himself, Bannos Jr. and Payne that were “concealed and/or mischaracterized as salaries or bonuses,” and improper distributions to himself, Bannos Jr., Mantuano and Veselsky that were miscategorized as personal loans. Harris also alleges that Purple Pig's other partners improperly transferred without his consent 0.66 percent of his membership stake to Bannos Jr. in November 2013, decreasing his ownership share to 38.34 percent.

Read the whole story here.

New Jersey Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $260K From Bank

From Newsday on 11/24/2014:

A former bank manager who embezzled more than $260,000 has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Season Wengert, of Franklinville, will also have to serve three years of supervised release once she's freed. She had pleaded guilty in August to a bank embezzlement charge.

Prosecutors say the thefts occurred between September 2007 and January 2013, when the 32-year-old Wengert was branch manager of a southern New Jersey bank. But they haven't said what the money was used for.
Prosecutors say Wengert stole $263,864 by fraudulently conducting online computer transfers of money from 38 accounts belonging to 23 customers into accounts owned by her or her husband. She also withdrew money from customers' accounts and deposited it into her accounts.

The 32-year-old Wengert also must pay $261,654 in restitution.

Former Prison Bail Supervisor In Pennsylvania Accused Of Embezzling $150K; Blames Struggling Personal Business Ventures

From CBS Philly on 11/24/2014:

The attorney for a former Philadelphia court supervisor says his client will plead not guilty after being charged by a grand jury with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail money.

Steven Martorano, 42, allegedly stole more than $150,000 during 2010 and 2011, while he supervised the bail acceptance unit at the Curran-Fromhold Prison, on State Road.

A grand jury charged that Martorano took advantage of lax supervision by the now-defunct Clerk of Quarter Sessions to steal the money because struggling business ventures has put him in a “precarious financial state.”

But defense attorney Michael DeFino says Martorano will plead not guilty.

“He asserts his innocence,” DeFino said today.  “It’s a highly circumstantial case where a number of people could have taken these funds.”

Charges against Martorano include theft and tampering with public records.  He is currently free on bail.

Texas Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $1.1 Million From Bank

From KFYO 790AM on 11/22/2014:

A Big Spring bank manager has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for a bank fraud conviction.

Former branch manager at BBVA Compass Bank in Big Spring, Texas, Lisa Lynette Barber, 49, of Amarillo pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in July of 2014.

According to court documents, Barber used her managerial status to steal from customers’ accounts by withdrawing money from various long-time customers with whom she had a relationship. If any of them complained, she simply refunded the stolen amount. Barber reportedly withdrew money using her employee’s information instead of her own and took large sums of cashier’s checks payable to different financial institutions.

Baber’s actions caused BBVA Big Spring to lose more than $1.1 million.

At her Tuesday, November 18, sentencing, U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Texas Sam R. Cummings ordered the 41-month sentence and more than $1 million in restitution fees. Barber must surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on December 19, 2014.

Barber worked for BBVA from 2008-12 after BBVA acquired State National Bank in 2008. Barber had been with State National Bank since 1997.

Kansas Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $2.5 Million

From KOAM TV7 on 11/21/2014:

A former employee of a southeast Kansas bank was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for stealing more than $2.5 million from her employer.

The U.S. Attorney announced 54-year-old Cynthia Bright, of Girard, was sentenced Thursday to five years and 10 months in prison. She pleaded guilty in June to one count of bank fraud.

Bright admitted she took the money over 10 years while she was operations supervisor at Girard National Bank.

Prosecutors say Bright used several methods to steal the money. She wrote checks on her own accounts but altered records so the money wasn't taken from her account. She also altered records to post checks to other accounts and diverted funds from the bank's accounts to her own.

Major Embezzlement Alleged At Oklahoma Utility - Former Manager Suspected

From NewsOK on 11/22/2014:

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into embezzlement allegations at Choctaw Electric Cooperative just weeks after its board of directors fired the general manager.


After initially standing by him, the Choctaw co-op board on Oct. 28 fired former CEO and General Manager Terry Matlock. He had been with the co-op since 2002.

“The board’s action occurred after an ongoing investigation revealed inconsistencies in administering policies and mismanagement relative to the purchase and personal use of equipment owned by the cooperative,” the board said in a statement.

A telephone message left for Matlock was not returned Friday. Matlock is a regent for the Regional University System of Oklahoma and served 12 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.


Other members said they were concerned about a $1.4 million retirement annuity purchased with co-op funds on Matlock’s behalf in 2012. The co-op’s federal tax return that year showed Matlock receiving a base salary of $194,000 and a bonus of $16,500.

After it fired Matlock in October, the board said it recovered the annuity, which is now owned by the co-op and worth $1.6 million.


Read the whole story here.

Former Bank Teller In California Arrested For Allegedly Embezzling $240K From Elderly Bank Client Accounts

From CalNews, Inc. on 11/23/2014:

Two elderly people in Orange County had their bank accounts tapped by a dishonest bank teller, who has been arrested for embezzlement and money laundering by the Secret Service, police said Sunday.

About $200,000 was siphoned away from the trusting victim by Jake Chih Wie Cheng, 23, police in Huntington Beach said. After he was transferred to San Clemente, another elderly victim was hit for $40,000.

Cheng was immediately fired by Wells Fargo when the embezzlements were discovered, and will be facing enhanced federal charges because the victims were elderly, according to the Huntington Beach police, who helped bring the arrest.

The former teller was arrested Friday at his home in Tustin, and was awaiting charges Sunday at the federal jail in Santa Ana. He had worked at the Wells Fargo branch at 7902 Edinger Ave. in Huntington Beach, police said.

That’s where Cheng reportedly befriended a man and convinced him to give money to him. After a few months, the teller began forging temporary checks drawn on the man’s account, police said.


Read the whole story here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Free Access Now For All Marquet White Collar Fraud Reports VIA New Web Portal

We have set up a new web page portal to allow free access to all of the Marquet International white collar fraud white papers here.  These Marquet Fraud Reports include all of the Marquet Reports on Embezzlment from 2008 to the present as well as the Marquet Report on Ponzi Schemes.  Please visit the portal and complete the simple registration to allow for complete access to all of the Marquet Fraud Reports.

The portal is accessed here:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Investigation Ongoing In $200K Municipal Embezzlement Case In Oklahoma

From KFSM Ch. 5 News on 11/21/2014:

No one has been arrested and no charges have been filed 10 months after a state audit implicated at least two Roland town officials and an assistant police chief in an embezzlement investigation, according to court records.

State investigators consider the case still open and active, said Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

A state audit in January concluded town officials and one of their husbands embezzled more than $200,000 from Roland city funds in eastern Oklahoma between 2009 and 2013.

Deputy town clerk Joetta Tyler-Hyde resigned in January 2013. Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into alleged embezzling by town officials the same month, and town officials fired town administrator Greg Wilson the next month, officials said.

An audit released in January states Tyler-Hyde received $129,442 in unsubstantiated payments from the town from July 2009 to January 2013. Wilson in the same timespan received $51,633 in unsubstantiated payments, according to the state audit.

State investigators said they would hand the evidence over to the Sequoyah County District Attorney following their investigation. Court records show no arrests warrants or criminal charges issued yet in connection with the case.

The audit conducted by state officials showed thousands of dollars in unsubstantiated extra salary being paid to the town clerk. For example, the audit states Tyler-Hyde’s salary for Fiscal Year 2011 should have been $50,562.42. Instead, she collected in salary that year a total of $90,009.05.

The following year, a cost of living increase should have put her salary at $52,374.40, not the $78,223.92 she actually received in salary that year, according to audit figures.

Auditors also uncovered a fake leave benefits package letter they said Wilson artificially manufactured after he was hired for the job of town administrator. It stated Wilson would receive three weeks of vacation time for his first year and four weeks per year after that. It also allowed for 10 sick days and three personal days, noting vacation and sick time could be carried over from year to year or be sold back to the town.

The allegedly fake letter was stamped with former Mayor J.R. Crowson’s signature. An investigation revealed Crowson couldn’t have stamped the letter at the time of Wilson’s hiring because the stamp was not purchased until a month later, the audit states.

Tyler-Hyde’s husband Mike Hyde was also implicated in the state audit. Town officials told auditors Mike Hyde was hired as a temporary part-time employee, although investigators could not find any records for Hyde and could not verify that payments made to Hyde were for actual hours worked.
The audit ruled Mike Hyde received unsubstantiated payments from the Town of Roland for $10,790 total between July 2010 and February 2013.

Assistant police chief Billy Cannon was not initially investigated as part of the audit, but as the audit unfolded, investigators started looking into Cannon.

While reviewing payroll payments to other officials during the audit timeframe, auditors discovered Cannon had, at one point, received nine checks in less than a month. A subsequent investigation revealed Cannon received $11,096 in unsubstantiated pay between July 2011 and February 2013, the audit states.

The audit also includes other allegations of financial misconduct from Roland town officials, including overspending on Christmas budget items, a poorly-used petty cash system and unauthorized expenditures. Auditors also concluded town officials had lied to auditors about Mike Hyde working for the town, and that Hyde had received $12,307 in employer-paid health insurance premiums for which he was not entitled.

Watch the story here.

Former Volunteer Fire Chief In North Carolina Charged With Embezzing More Than $100K

From the Fayetteville Observer on 11/21/2014:

A former chief is accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from a Robeson County fire department, the State Bureau of Investigation said.

Herman Junior Jones, 45, of Sanderson Road in Maxton, was arrested Tuesday on embezzlement indictments, said Teresa West, an SBI spokeswoman.

Jones is accused of taking the money from the Pembroke Rural Volunteer Fire Department, West said.
West said an audit led to the discovery of the missing money, and the Robeson County Sheriff's Office asked the SBI for assistance.
The money was taken over a three-year period and the fire department has fully cooperated in the investigation, said Lt. Brian Duckworth of the Robeson County Sheriff's Office.
Jones had been a member of the department for about 18 years, said Tim Chavis, chairman of the department's board of directors.
Jones was named the chief in July 2010, Chavis said. West said the SBI investigation began March 29 and Duckworth confirmed Jones resigned about that time.


Read the whole story here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Massachusetts Woman Indicted For Allegedly Embezzling From Retirement Community

From The Republican on 11/19/2014:

The former manager of an East Longmeadow retirement community is under federal indictment for allegedly embezzling funds from the facility.

Alice Lacroix, 53, formerly of East Longmeadow, was arrested in Virginia and charged with eight counts of wire fraud, eight counts of money laundering, and two counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced Wednesday.

The indictment alleges that Lacroix, a former manager of Bluebird Estates, a retirement living community off Parker Street, embezzled funds from her employer by stealing rent checks paid by tenants, as well as other checks and property belonging to her employer.

Authorities say Lacroix established a bank account in the name of Bluebird Estates and deposited the stolen funds into that account. Lacroix then engaged in financial transactions designed to disguise the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors.

Lacroix deceived her employer through emails containing false information about the stolen rent payments, then "aided and abetted in the filing of false income tax returns," prosecutors said.

Authorities did not indicate how long Lacroix had managed Bluebird Estates, or how much money she allegedly took during her tenure at the facility.

If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in federal prison, hefty fines and other penalties.


Read the whole story here.

Note: We assume that although no amount has yet been disclosed, this case involves more than $100,000 since it is being prosecuted on a federal basis.

South Carolina Woman Charged With Embezzling $325K From Credit Union

From The Post & Courier on 11/19/2014:

A Ladson woman is accused of embezzling $325,000 from the bank where she worked over a six-year period, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Bill Nettles said today his office has filed an information charging Yvondia "Susan" Young, 57, with bank fraud. The document alleges that from August 2007 to February 2013, Young embezzled money from Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, by issuing official credit union checks to make payments on her credit card bills, he said.
At the time, Young was manager of card services for the credit union, according to court documents.
In federal court, an information filing is similar to an indictment, in that it spells out the facts and elements of a criminal offense. It's typically used in cases where a defendant waives indictment by grand jury.
Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Michigan Woman Arrested For Allegedly Embezzling $100K From "Vulnerable Adult"

From on 11.19.2014:

Detectives with the Escanaba Department of Public Safety arrested a 37-year-old Escanaba woman for embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of $100,000 or more.

According to the Escanaba Department of Public Safety, the arrest stems from a several month long investigation into missing funds of a vulnerable adult residing at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans. The suspect, who was aware of the investigation, turned herself in peaceably after being notified of the formal charges authorized by the Delta County Prosecutor's Office.

An embezzlement of this nature is a crime committed against an elder or otherwise vulnerable adult who is unable to protect him or herself due to mental impairment or advanced age. The felony carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or $50,000 or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater. This arrest comes on the back of a noticeable upwards swing in financial exploitation complaints involving elder and vulnerable victims.

Texas Man Arrested For Allegedly Embezzling $400K From Landscape Company - Stolen Money Reportely Gets Spent On Strippers

From the San Antonio Express-News on 11/19/2014:

A former comptroller at a San Antonio landscaping company has admitted to stealing $400,000 from his employer and spending most of that on strippers.

Todd C. Seward, 52, is seen in an undated courtesy photo. The FBI has arrested Seward , a former comptroller, on suspicion of stealing $400,000 from his employer and possibly spending most of that on strippers, according to court records.


Read the whole story here.

83-Year-Old Man Guilty Of Embezzling $100K From Volunteer Fire Company In Virginia

From WAVY Ch. 10 on 11/18/2014:

On Tuesday, an Accomack County judge found the former treasurer of the Onley Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company guilty of embezzling money from the company.

83-year-old James Morris entered an Alford plea of guilty to one count of embezzlement. The plea means he does not admit guilt, but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him.

Fire Chief Christopher Davis, who was scheduled to testify if the case went to trial, remembered the start of the investigation.

“We met with the state police, hired a book-keeper and began sorting through and uncovering just how large the scale of this was,” Davis said.

Prosecutors said Morris took close to $100,000 from the fire company between 2008 and 2012. Davis said he talked to Morris about it.

“By his admission, he had taken a significant amount of money,” Davis said. “He told us that he had permission, and it was a loan, but at some point, it became unmanageable. He had taken more than he could manage to pay back.”

If the case had gone to trial, witnesses would have testified that Morris said the money was taken as a loan, verbally approved by a former president of the fire company, used to pay off credit card debt, according to court documents.

When WAVY News went to Morris’ home on Tuesday, he said he did not embezzle, and that the money was a loan.

“It’s a sad situation, because he certainly did not start out with the intent of taking that amount of money. Somewhere in his life, he felt like he was in a situation where he needed some money,” Davis said.

Morris’ attorneys, Adam Carroll and Stephen Pfeiffer, said the money Morris took was a loan that was not properly documented, but that Morris’ intent had always been to pay back the money. They said Morris put his initials next to items in the ledger.

If Morris pays back the fire company on schedule, he is not expected to face any time in prison, according to court paperwork. He owes approximately $121,000, which includes court costs, the plea agreement said.

“People trust us when we enter their homes and when we enter their businesses. When they’re having their worst day, we’re the ones that show up to help. So, it is demoralizing to know that an organization that’s supposed to be built on trust, honor, and duty, one of our own violated that,” Davis said.

Davis said the fire company has put safeguards in place and has checks and balances that are “two and three deep.”

Former Financial Controller For New York Non-Profit Charged With Embezzling $1.8 Million

From the New York Times on 11/18/2014:

A former official of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit group that supports research into genetic illness, has been charged with embezzling more than $1.8 million of the organization’s funds and using the money for personal expenses.
The former official, Karen Alameddine, 57, served as the organization’s controller until she resigned this year. She had almost exclusive responsibility for overseeing various aspects of the foundation’s financial affairs, the government said, including delivering grant money to researchers and paying the organization’s bills.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday that Ms. Alameddine began diverting money by disguising entries in the foundation’s accounting software “to make what in reality were transfers to her personal bank account appear as if they were wire or bank transfers” to grant recipients.
The government said Ms. Alameddine, who also went by Karen Dean, worked for the organization in recent years from her residence in Perris, Calif. The funds she diverted went into accounts she controlled with names like Abacus Accounting, Chez Cheval Ranch, Dean & Co. and Karen Dean Exports, the complaint said.
Ms. Alameddine was arrested Monday night in Boston, and appeared in federal court there on Tuesday, where she was held pending her transfer to Manhattan, according to the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Her federal public defender in Boston, Stellio Sinnis, declined to comment on Tuesday.
The scheme began to unwind this year, the complaint said, after Ms. Alameddine left her job, and the foundation received a call from a grant recipient who said that he had not received his check from the foundation.
The foundation discovered that its bank statements showed an online wire transfer, “purportedly representing the grant amount, which had been fraudulently diverted to Alameddine’s personal bank account,” the complaint said.
The foundation said in a statement that Ms. Alameddine had served as controller from September 2005 through January 2014, and that its current controller uncovered several months ago what appeared to be fraudulent transactions. “This loss was confirmed by a thorough internal investigation and a forensic audit conducted by outside legal counsel retained immediately by the foundation,” the statement said.
It also said that the internal investigation had determined that “although the theft was substantial, only a small amount of grant monies committed before 2014 was compromised.” The complaint says Ms. Alameddine further concealed her fraud “by creating, apparently out of whole cloth, a fictitious accounting firm named Davis & Greene, based in Washington, D.C.,” to prepare some of the foundation’s tax returns.
Read the whole story here.

Trial Ongoing In $600K Embezzlement Case In Pennsylvania

From the Delaware County Daily Times on 11/18/14:

The part owner of Aston-based Pop Tuna Builders continued his testimony Tuesday in the trial of former bookkeeper Ruth Phillips, who is accused of bleeding approximately $600,000 from the construction firm between 2007 and 2013.
John D’Annunzio continued to identify hundreds of checks offered by Assistant District Attorney Brian Doherty that he claimed he did not authorize and did not sign, many worth thousands of dollars and payable to Phillips or her credit card.
Phillips, 55, of the 700 block of Hill Avenue, Aston, is facing forgery and theft charges for allegedly writing the checks on company accounts, which D’Annunzio said he never checked because he had an accountant and a bookkeeper to handle the business side of things.

D’Annunzio, who identifies himself as “an outside guy,” said he and brother Vincent D’Annunzio took over the family business, previously D’Annunzio and Sons, after their father died in 2007. Their father had hired Phillips in late 2004, he said, and the brothers kept her on as a bookkeeper after his death at the same rate of $500 per week.
But D’Annunzio said he discovered in 2013 that Phillips lied to him about how much money was in company coffers, leading to an investigation that revealed hundreds of allegedly bogus checks had been cut on a QuickBooks program Phillips administered. He said Phillips broke down crying and confessed to the thefts – originally thought to be about $300,000 – when she was confronted by the brothers and attorney Mark Much in March 2013. Phillips allegedly gave the D’Annunzios $45,000 from a savings account and signed over her house to make partial restitution.
D’Annunzio told defense attorney Robert Keller Tuesday that Phillips collected the mail, handled bookkeeping and filed bank statements, which he never asked to see.
He said Phillips was not supposed to deal with vendors or municipalities and that he did not direct her on entering information into the QuickBooks system for any of the corporations associated with various developments the construction firm was working on.
“I never, ever once told her how I wanted her to register that check (on the software),” he said. “Not once. I didn’t know anything about that.”


Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Virginia Woman Sentenced To 4 Years In $200K Embezzlement Case

From the Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star on 11/17/2014:

A woman who stole tens of thousands of dollars from a local residential substance abuse facility she directed was ordered Monday to serve four years in prison.

Marlene Kae McCary, 60, the former director of the Serenity Home of Fredericksburg, was sentenced to 40 years in prison with all but four years suspended.

She had previously pleaded guilty to four felony counts of embezzlement.

A restitution order calls for McCary to repay $90,381, though city detective Wayne Hunnicutt’s investigation revealed that up to $200,000 had been stolen.

Serenity Home offered local residential substance abuse services for more than 30 years. The nonprofit organization lost its license and closed in 2013, largely because of financial troubles tied to McCary’s thefts.


Read the whole story here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NY Paper: Embezzlement Cost New York Taxpayers $30 Million From Government Entities From 2011 - 2014

From the Albany Times Union on 11/15/2014:

 Public  pocket getting picked

$30M lost as public servants betray trust to finance lifestyles

About once a week for five-and-a-half years, Brenda Kennedy left her Rensselaer County office with more than $800 in her lunchbox. No one else knew; not even her husband.

By the time her crime was discovered in August 2012, Kennedy had stolen $208,597 from her job as a clinical billing clerk for the county Department of Public Health. Last month, she admitted she swiped the money on a near-weekly basis starting in January 2007.

She awaits sentencing.

Kennedy's initial motivation to steal was simple.

"I was getting ready for Christmas and I didn't have enough money to give my kids the best Christmas," Kennedy told investigators. "No one was reviewing my paperwork at work."

Kennedy's case provides a snapshot of government workers who steal from the public. Prosecutors say the scenario has become all too familiar in public offices across the state.

"They dip their toe in the pool when they might get a little behind in their rent and they realize 'Holy cow, I can get away with this,"' said Nelson Sheingold, deputy comptroller and counsel for investigations with the state comptroller's office.

New York's comptroller and attorney general have formed a team of auditors and prosecutors to ferret out the embezzlement and file criminal cases against the thieves. In Kennedy's case, the comptroller's office examined the records and the Rensselaer County district attorney's office prosecuted the case.
Restitution agreements are often inked, but it can take years of criminal and civil litigation for the victims — taxpayers — to be repaid. In some cases, the money never comes back.

Kennedy lost her job, and with a felony now on her record her career is in jeopardy. It is a common thread in embezzlement cases that defendants have a hard time coming up with the restitution because their criminal records make it very hard to land well-paying jobs.

An examination of arrests and prosecutions by the comptroller and attorney general, as well as cases in county courts between 2011 and 2014, revealed the embezzlement of some $30 million of taxpayer money.

State auditors say there have been 80 arrests in the past three years, with the culprits typically taking small amounts when they start. As they get away with it, the temptation of free money becomes more enticing. Many told investigators that at first they planned on paying it back.

"We see some who were doing it for a decade or more, so they think they will never get caught," Sheingold said.

Kennedy's attorney, George LaMarche, said his client quickly realized she was getting into trouble and feared she'd be exposed.

"She feels tremendously remorseful," LaMarche said. "It's also had a terrible impact on her family and children."

Kennedy and dozens of others who have been caught said they were able to steal because they were not closely supervised. Their thefts have been brought to light by anonymous tipsters and co-workers who unearthed financial discrepancies. State auditors also uncover embezzlements during scheduled governmental audits, officials said.

In Kennedy's case, someone made an anonymous tip to her supervisor, who then called for a complete audit of her work.

In a court filing, Kennedy said she started putting cash payments she handled for her office into envelopes she discreetly dropped into her wastebasket. When she emptied the basket at the end of the day, she pocketed the cash.

Kennedy said she took $200 the first time she stole, but that the amounts steadily grew.

"It started out small, and then each time I did it again depended on how much I could cover up," Kennedy said. "No one else knew I was doing this, not even my husband. He just thought I was better with money than him."

Rensselaer County Corporation Counsel Steven Pechenik said many hours were spent uncovering the extent of Kennedy's thefts and instituting changes to prevent something similar from happening in the future.


Read the whole story here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Local Michigan Paper Has A Nice Editorial: "Stop the rampant embezzlement in your community"

From the Grand Haven Tribune on 11/13/14:

Stop the rampant embezzlement in your community

The headlines are disgusting: More than $1.7 million has been siphoned from local companies, allegedly by three long-time employees.
There was the case of Mercy Health System’s IT guy stealing and reselling about $900,000 in electronic equipment, then there is the local accountant being accused of embezzling about $500,000 from Magnum, and now there’s the case involving an office manager for a Grand Haven doctor that could total $300,000 or more in lost funds.

These aren’t the first or only cases in the Tri-Cities area of employee embezzlement. In fact, these situations seem to pop up on a regular basis in nearly every field – from school PTA funds to factories to church collection plates.

What’s even sadder is that most of the employees found stealing from companies are often valued, long-time associates.

Read the whole editorial here.

Texas Woman Sentenced To 30 Years For Embezzling For Embezzling $446K From Local Bank Over 10 Year Period

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph on 11/13/14:

A 59-year-old Lindale woman was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Wednesday for embezzling bank funds from Lindale State Bank over 10 years.

U.S. Attorney John M. Bales stated in a press release that Mary Jane Haxton pleaded guilty on July 18 to misapplication of funds by a bank employee and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis on Wednesday.

Haxton was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $446,344.66.

According to information presented in court, Haxton worked as a cashier at Lindale State Bank from 1984 until early 2014.

In 2004, Haxton began embezzling the funds by misapplying the funds to personal accounts which she owned or controlled.

In December 2013, Lindale State Bank merged with Texas Bank and Trust and became an official branch of Texas Bank and Trust. After the merger, the accounting department was in the process of reconciling accounts and discovered the funds had been misapplied.  ...

Read the whole story here.

3 Florida Companies Sue Former Bookkeeper & Husband - A Deputy Sheriff - In $500K Embezzlement Case

From the Tampa Bay Times on 11/14/14:

A trio of Hillsborough County companies is suing a former bookkeeper and her husband — a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy—after she was arrested on charges of embezzling half a million dollars from them.

The lawsuit filed by the companies last week alleges Karla Reigner's husband, David Reigner, knew his wife was stealing from the plumbing and air conditioning repair businesses and used a company credit card to spend more than $7,000 on kitchen cabinets from Home Depot for himself.

David Reigner is still working as a sheriff's deputy after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation cleared him, spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

"It was the FDLE that did the investigation and they found that he was not involved," McKinnon said.

Karla Reigner was arrested by FDLE in August on charges of embezzling more than $500,000 from Scott's Services, Inc., Princeco, Inc. and One Hour Air of Central Florida. Reigner pleaded not guilty in October, according to Hillsborough County court records.

According to the lawsuit, Wells Fargo contacted owner Scott Vigue in December 2012 about "suspicious charges" made on company credit cards. When Vigue contacted her, Reigner said the company card looked like her personal card and she used the company card by mistake. She paid them $2,550 as reimbursement, the lawsuit said.

Reigner was fired. An audit found she stole $517,348, and used company credit cards at gas stations, drug stores, travel sites and restaurants, the lawsuit said.

Reigner began working for the companies in March 2011, the lawsuit said. ...

Read the whole story here:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Michigan Man Charged With Embezzling $800K From Steel Concern; Blames Divorce

From the Huron Daily Tribune on 11/113/14:

A 34-year-old Akron man on Wednesday seemed to admit in court that he embezzled from a Pigeon factory.

Chad Letson, who is accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from Blue Diamond Steel, told Huron County Magistrate Jessica Testolin that he couldn’t afford to pay his bills after he got divorced.

“That’s why I was doing what I was doing,” he said during his arraignment in Huron County District Court.
According to the Tuscola County Clerk’s Office, Letson’s divorce file was opened Dec. 3, 2010, and Huron County officials allege Letson began embezzling from Blue Diamond Steel in January 2011.
Blue Diamond Steel is a subsidiary of Huron Castings Inc., which employs nearly 800 people. A message seeking comment was left with Senior Vice President Matt Davis at Blue Diamond Steel, but he was unavailable to say what exactly transpired in the case.
However, according to Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson, officers from his office and the Village of Pigeon, went to the Pigeon factory, which is located on Sturm Road in Winsor Township, on Tuesday to investigate the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars in computer hardware.
“Management was alerted from within earlier that morning that something wasn’t right,” Hanson stated in a news release. “Upon looking into it, it was suspected that they had been embezzled from, therefore requesting our intervention.”
Within hours, Letson was in police custody and lodged in the Huron County Jail on a felony charge of embezzlement over $100,000, Hanson reported.
“The circumstances, which led to the arrest, was that the man has been an employee of the company since the late 1990s and had been in a supervisory role since 2011,” the sheriff added. “Apparently, some time after his supervisory promotion, he began ordering expensive computer hardware, which was claimed to be for existing plant manufacturing machines. He would then sell the hardware through the Internet, at a discounted price. Because supervisors are allowed to purchase items without further management approval, as long as it’s below a certain dollar limit, these purchases went undetected until (Tuesday).”
It is believed that more than $800,000 worth of computer hardware purchases were made and sold, according to Hanson.
“Last night, (Tuesday), our office went to his Akron area residence and served a search warrant. Seized during (Tuesday’s) investigation were a 2011 Shelby Mustang, a 2008 Jeep Cherokee, computer-related items and suspected stolen items,” he added. “United States Postal inspectors are also assisting and have seized suspected out-of-state computer hardware shipments. Our office and the (Huron County) Prosecutor’s Office are continuing to work on seizing other personal assets.”
During Letson’s arraignment, Testolin explained the crime of embezzlement of more than $100,000 is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $50,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater.
While Testolin did not believe Letson poses a danger to the community, she was concerned he is a flight risk, considering the severity of the case. As such, she entered an order that he surrender his passport. Also, he is prohibited from using his Paypal account. 
There was some question during Wednesday’s arraignment as to whether Letson is qualified to have a court-appointed attorney. That is because as of Tuesday, he had been employed and was making about $100,000 a year. However, Letson told the court that he hasn’t had much money since he got divorced. He said he currently has about $400 in his bank account.
Testolin appointed Bad Axe attorney Andrew Lockard to represent Letson in the case, and the court entered a plea of not guilty on Letson’s behalf. His bond was set at $50,000 cash, and he remains in the custody of the Huron County Jail.

Update (2/3/2015): Letson pleads guilty.  Read an update of the story here.

Michigan Woman Charged With Embezzling $460K From Residents Of Senior Living Facility

From the Oakland Press on 11/13/14:

The preliminary exam for a Lapeer County woman accused of embezzling more than $450,000 from residents at a Rochester Hills nursing home has been rescheduled.

Tina Marie Binkley, 44, of Almont, is now scheduled to appear in front of Judge Julie Nicholson in 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills on Dec. 9. She had been scheduled to appear Monday, Nov. 10.

Binkley was charged Oct. 16 with two counts of embezzling more than $100,000 from a vulnerable adult. Both counts are punishable by 20-year sentences.

She allegedly used her position as business office manager to take $460,266 from 136 residents of Boulevard Health Center in Rochester Hills, where she worked until 2013.

Former Accountant Of Connecticut Electrical Supply Company Charged With Embezzling $1.6 Million

From the Hartford Courant on 11/13/14:

A former accountant for a Middletown-based electrical supply company was charged Wednesday with embezzling $1.6 million over seven years.

Gale Zolla, 41, of Stevens Lane in Bristol, was charged with one count of first-degree larceny and 327 counts of second-degree forgery. Police said the forgery counts relate to checks she wrote to a fictitious company and deposited into her personal accounts.

After turning herself in Wednesday, Zolla was held in lieu of $250,000 cash bail. At her arraignment, a judge left the cash bail in place, but agreed to allow Zolla to post 10 percent, or $25,000. She remained in custody late Thursday.

Police said that on Feb. 15, Zolla went to the Bristol police department and told officers she had embezzled money from her employer, U.S. Electrical Services, Inc., which is the parent company of Electrical Wholesalers. After determining the business was in Middletown, the case was turned over to Middletown police.

Middletown Det. Jeffrey Laskowski, with assistance from other detectives as well as inspectors in the chief state's attorney's office, began investigating.

Zolla initially told police she'd stolen $800,000 from the company, but as the company audited its accounts it determined the loss was actually $1.66 million. Zolla told police she believed her boss was beginning to suspect she was stealing and that prompted her February visit to Bristol police.
Police said their investigation showed that Zolla wrote herself 470 checks during the time she worked at Electrical Wholesalers, and that she wrote the last check on Feb. 15, the same day she went to Bristol police to turn herself in.
Middletown police obtained search warrants for Zolla's home and bank accounts and said most of the money appears to be gone. Zolla told police she spent the money on landscaping, vacations, vehicles and other household expenses.

Zolla also covered some of the expenses of her wedding with the stolen funds, according to the warrant. She also spent about $100,000 on landscaping at her home, according to the warrant. Bank records "indicate she spent money on vacations, restaurants, furniture and many shopping sprees," according to the warrant.

Police also learned that Zolla used about $12,500 in stolen funds to pay down her credit cards just prior to going to Bristol police headquarters to confess, according to the warrant. She cashed an allegedly forged check for $5,000 the day she went to police and another for $6,264 just after, according to the warrant.

What prompted Zolla to go to police to confess appears to be the efforts of a co-worker at U.S. Electrical Services, Linda Culop, to reconcile several accounts. One account was short about $750,000 for 2012 and 2013, according to the warrant. Culup, a senior accountant, asked Zolla about the discrepancy and Zolla said she'd look into it, according to the warrant.

Over the next several weeks, Culop continued to ask Zolla about the discrepancies, but did not get an answer. She then went to the company's chief financial officer, Robert Canyock, and another employee to show them the problem.

Culop told police that on Feb. 14 she sat down with Zolla and another employee to investigate the shortfall, according to the warrant. Zolla said she was stepping away to get more detail, and then left work. Zolla went to Bristol police the next day.

As U.S. Electrical Services accountants further examined the records, they determined that the company's loss totaled $1.66 million and all of the checks had been cut by Zolla to the fictitious company, according to the warrant.

Illinois Lawyer Sentenced To 9 Years For Embezzling $1.2 Million From Clients

From the Chicago Tribune on 11/13/14:

A Crystal Lake attorney wept Wednesday as he apologized to families from whom he stole $1.2 million before a judge sentenced him to nine years in prison.

Curt Rehberg, 50, of Cary, pleaded guilty in September to multiple counts of theft and was ordered Wednesday to pay his victims back.

"I want you to know how incredibly sorry I am," Rehberg said in the McHenry County courtroom, which was packed with his victims. "You trusted me ... we were friends ... you couldn't have seen it coming. There is no security system to protect you from what I did."

Rehberg said he felt ashamed for stealing from his clients. He thought he would be able to pay back the money, but said, "I could not pay it back, and when you asked, I lied, I drank ... I hoped for a miracle, but that miracle never came."

Addressing the impact his crimes had on his own family, Rehberg said his children will have to live with people calling their father "a scumbag lawyer who stole from his clients."

Many victims said they had met Rehberg through relatives and had always trusted him. Rehberg had helped many of them with family legal matters for more than 20 years.

In many cases, the money Rehberg stole had come from settlements, wills or trusts that were placed in accounts that he controlled. When beneficiaries tried to collect money due to them, it was gone. Authorities have said Rehberg used clients' money to pay for business or personal expenses.
One such fund for more than $525,000 was earmarked for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.


Read the rest of the story here.

Wisconsin Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $144K From Non-Profit Dedicated To Domestic Violence Intervention

From the Lacrosse Tribune on 11/12/14:

Portner gets prison time for DVIP embezzlement
MADISON - A former La Crosse woman who embezzled $144,544 from an anti-domestic violence organization, causing it to close, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to six months in prison and ordered to make restitution. Lori Portner, 53, had been the office manager of the Domestic Violence Intervention Project until 2007 when her position was reduced to a $15 an hour part-time bookkeeper, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita Rumbelow said. Portner used her check-writing authority between 2007 and June 30, 2010, to overpay herself by $116,988. She also used a DVIP credit card to make about $27,000 in personal purchases, Rumbelow said.
Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Michigan Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $300K

From the Lansing State Journal on 11/12/2014:

The former office manager for a Lansing business will pay nearly $300,000 in restitution as part of her sentence for embezzling money over many years.

Holly Ann Sisco was sentenced Wednesday in Ingham County Circuit Court to nine months in jail and ordered to pay restitution to four business entities -- all owned by the same man -- whose bank accounts she could access.

Sisco, 37, of Lansing, pleaded no contest in September to embezzlement charges.

For 10 years, Sisco worked for Michigan ICS, a plastering business, according to police reports filed in court as part of her plea. Beginning in 2006, the reports say, she began writing checks to herself, forging signatures and modifying checks so they'd be payable to her.

Patrick Hanes, an attorney representing Michigan ICS and the other businesses, said it's unclear how long the embezzlement lasted. He said bank records for all the years are not available.
The owner of the businesses, Michael Harwood, declined to comment.

The embezzlement was discovered in the summer of 2013 and Sisco resigned, documents show.
In a resignation agreement, Sisco said she used the money for house payments, credit card bills and "various other things."

At her plea hearing in September, Sisco said she pleaded no contest because of the potential of being sued.

More than $250,000 of the restitution is owed to Michigan ICS. Sisco was ordered to pay the remaining restitution amount to three other businesses -- H and H Investments, Latitude Subrogation Services and Intercon Industries.

In Judge William Collette's courtroom Wednesday, Sisco apologized, saying: "I know I broke the law. I'm willing to pay back everything by working hard."

After resigning from Michigan ICS, Sisco was able to find a job as a bookkeeper, her attorney said, although the job does not involve handling money. Hanes said it's unlikely she will be able to pay restitution.

"Three hundred thousand dollars for (her)," Hanes told Collette. "I don't think any of us will live that long."

Former Finance Director Arrested For Embezzling $8.5 Million From Gulfstream Aerospace

From the Associated Press:

A former finance director with Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. was arrested late last week in California and charged with stealing at least $8.5 million from Gulfstream’s Long Beach and Las Vegas operations.

Marvin Jay Caukin of Calabasas was held without bail after his initial appearance in U.S. District Court Friday on charges of identity theft and conspiracy to launder money and commit mail fraud, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

In court papers, FBI Special Agent Sherine Ebadi said Caukin, 66, was employed as finance director of Gulfstream’s Long Beach and Las Vegas operations between 2001 and 2013 when he orchestrated a sophisticated embezzlement scheme using friends and relatives to set up phony businesses — with familiar-sounding names like Jetco Aviation Services — to bill the company for services never provided.

Caukin allegedly approved payments to the bogus companies and the proceeds were then funneled back to him and a number of co-conspirators. As of Tuesday, the co-conspirators had not been charged.

Caukin, who did not enter a plea in his Friday court appearance, goes back to court on Monday for a bail hearing.

His lawyer had no comment.

A spokeswoman for Savannah-based Gulfstream, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, said Tuesday the company had no comment.

According to Beatriz Valenzuela of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, federal investigators were made aware of the situation shortly after Gulfstream began looking into financial irregularities at the offices Caukin supervised. The company fired him in May 2013 when it learned he had lied on his initial application in 2000, indicating he had not been convicted of a felony within the last seven years.
Caukin had, in fact, spent nearly three years in federal prison in the mid 1990s for embezzling $2.4 million from USA Petroleum Corp., where he was finance director. He pleaded guilty in that case to wire fraud.

According to court documents, Caukin applied for the Gulfstream job only four months after he was released from prison for a parole violation.

Investigators say Caukin spent the money he embezzled from Gulfstream on two houses, including a $2 million Calabasas residence that he purchased with cash; fancy cars, pricey restaurants, five-star hotels, expensive jewelry and luxury furnishings as well as mundane expenses such as insurance premiums, utilities and other living expenses.

Eimiller said investigators with the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service searched Caukin’s two homes Friday and recovered several thousand dollars in cash from his Mercedes Benz.
Two of the co-conspirators, including his 46-year-old son, were unindicted accomplices in Caukin’s previous scheme, according to Ebadi.

The Associated Press reported that another co-conspirator, who was authorized to handle bank accounts for phony companies and rented mail boxes where checks from Gulfstream were sent, is believed to run an Orange County escort service that was paid more than $55,000 between 2001 and 2012 for catering and support at such events as the Gulfstream company Christmas party.

Those events did not take place, and Gulfstream never hired the company, according to documents.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Oklahoma Woman Charged With Embezzling $210K From Healthcare Concerns

From the Enid News on 11/11/2014:

A former St. Mary’s Physicians Associates manager has been arrested on 31 counts of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretense.

According to an affidavit filed in the arrest of Michelle Bays, 49, of Enid, she is accused of taking approximately $150,000 in cash and merchandise from St. Mary’s Hospital and affiliates and approximately $60,000 from Springs Internal Medicine, Dr. Dennis McIntyre and Dr. Daniel Washburn over a two-year period.

“We’re cooperating with the authorities that are handling the matter, but can’t comment further at this time,” St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center Marketing Director Lori Boyd said. “She’s no longer an employee of St. Mary’s or its related entities.”
Bays turned herself in on the charges, according to Enid Police Department Capt. Jack Morris.
On March 25, an Enid Police Department officer spoke with an individual from Independence Physician Management who provided documentation leading to the charges, according to the affidavit.
In her role as manager of St. Mary’s Physicians Associates, Bays was responsible for making deposits and for handling the daily operations of seven St. Mary’s clinics and 13 doctors, according to the affidavit.
Independence Physician Management, the corporate office, learned of the alleged wrongdoing after Bays made a November 2013 police report related to a theft of approximately $5,400 in cash and checks from the Kingfisher clinic, the affidavit states.                                                                                                                                                                            
Bays allegedly had the checks and cash and did not deposit them in the bank, according to the affidavit. St. Mary’s corporate office reportedly discovered money was missing from accounts receivable and performed an internal audit.
The audit reportedly showed there “were numerous money transfers, money deposits, fraudulent purchases, fraudulent reimbursements to Michelle Bays personally, petty cash unaccounted for, missing receipts and unapproved purchases made by Michelle,” according to the affidavit.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Join Us For Fraud Talk On Voice America Business Radio Network: Interview With Kathy Jessup

I will be interviewing Kathy Jessup, a journalist who recently penned a terrific six part series on embezzlement, focused on cases and issues she identified in her home state of Michigan.  Go to Voice America to listen live online or later at your leisure at

Kathy's series, entitled "Other People's Money" can be read here: (Case study involving dental practice that lost $150K to bookkeeper) (All about a special court ordered psych and rehab program for embezzlers)

It is a great series and I encourage any interested party to read them all.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Former Insurance Agent From Virginia Sentenced For Embezzling $689K - Gambling A Factor

From InsuranceNewsNet on 11/7/2014:

A former insurance agent from Herndon will begin a two-year prison sentence in January for embezzling more than $680,000 to allegedly pay off gambling debts.

Derl Knarr, 55, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. Middle District Court on a charge of insurance crimes affecting interstate commerce. U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann made the recommendation to have Knarr serve his sentence in the federal prison in either Lewisburg, Cumberland, Md. or Charleston, W.Va.   Knarr was also ordered to pay $688,914.91 in restitution, the bulk, $664,761.24, going to Allstate Life Insurance Co. Brann ruled, though, that two victims will be paid first, one getting $20,853.67, the other $3,300.   According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, Knarr stole the funds in Snyder, Northumberland and other counties while he worked as an agent for Allstate Financial Services. The thefts occurred between 2006 and 2012.   The investigation was conducted by the FBI, State College Resident Office.   Knarr allegedly embezzled, abstracted, purloined and misappropriated money, funds, premiums, credits and other property of the insurance business totaling $630,836.72. His actions caused clients to liquidate certain Lincoln Benefit Life Co. annuities and endorse proceeds checks to him.   Knarr is accused of depositing the checks into accounts that he controlled. Knarr collected funds from clients for the purchase of annuities, which the defendant failed to purchase, instead depositing the money into his own accounts.   Knarr also allegedly used the funds stolen from his clients to pay for personal expenses, including trips to casinos in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Knarr will surrender himself to begin his sentence Jan. 5 at the corrections facility chosen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Michigan Couple Charged With Embezzling $357K From Senior Living Community

From on 11/7/2014:

A Midland County couple is accused of embezzling more than $350,000 from a Saginaw company offering subsidized housing at three locations.

Police allege the embezzlement took place over a five-year period at Saginaw Westchester Village.
Westchester's now-former executive director, Michelle R. Johnson, and her husband, Mark J. Fortier, are charged with three felonies each and face up to 20 years in prison.

Johnson, 42, and Fortier, 52, of Coleman are charged with conducting a continuing criminal enterprise, embezzling more than $100,000, and embezzling more than $50,000 but less than $100,000.

"The suspected loss is upwards of $357,116.14, which Johnson accomplished by using a Citizens Bank Visa card belonging to the victim," Saginaw Township Police Detective James MacDonald stated in a sworn affidavit.

MacDonald stated Johnson worked as the executive director and project administrator for Westchester, which has two campuses in Saginaw Township and one in Saginaw for those 62 years of age or older or disabled over the age of 18, from April 2003 until she was fired on March 28, 2014.
Westchester board members on Feb. 17, 2014, were alerted to "questionable expenses" after a 2013 audit, MacDonald stated. Johnson "recognized" $17,857.23 as being "misunderstandings of her purchasing authority" and offered to pay back that amount and forego any additional bonuses for the year, the detective stated.

Because Westchester is subsidized by the federal government's Homeowners' Assistance Program, board members decided to fire Johnson, MacDonald stated. Westchester officials then reported the discrepancy to the Saginaw Township Police Department, which directed them to arrange for an independent audit, MacDonald stated.

Braun Kendrick performed the audit, MacDonald stated, and found that from April 10, 2009, to June 11, 2014, there was $174,711.75 in "non-business activity" charges and $182,404.39 in "potential business expenses." The charges were on a Visa card issued to Johnson that also had two other authorized signers: the Westchester president and Fortier, who was a previous maintenance employee for Westchester, MacDonald stated.

The auditor further found that account statements provided by Citizens Bank did not match statements provided by Johnson, MacDonald stated. The auditor, the detective stated, "pointed out that these types of changed/altered transaction locations in the statements provided by Johnson, as compared to the statements provided by Citizens Bank, are prevalent throughout the aforementioned time frame of 2009-2014."

Some of the transactions in the statements obtained from the bank showed purchases in Hawaii, at professional sporting events, and at Home Depot and Lowe's in Midland, MacDonald stated. Other transactions included cash advances at casinos, the detective stated.

Johnson and Fortier turned themselves in to authorities on Oct. 30, when Saginaw County District Judge M. Randall Jurrens arraigned them and released them on $30,000 personal recognizance bonds.
Both the criminal enterprise and over-$100,000 embezzlement charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison, while the other embezzlement charge carries a 15-year maximum penalty. The over-$100,000 charge carries a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is higher, and the over-$50,000 charge carries a maximum fine of $25,000 with the same parameters.

California Man Charged With Embezzling $300K In Vendor Fraud Scheme

From the Associated Press on 11/6/2014:

A former Fresno business executive has been charged with embezzling nearly $300K from a local business.

Anthony Lester, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud and money laundering. Lester was the former controller at Century Builders in Fresno, and later chief financial officer. During his employment, he also had access to the financial accounts of another Fresno business, Highlands Energy Services.

Lester is accused of diverting money from bank accounts and credit cards held by Highlands Energy Services into other financial accounts, including his own PayPal account, according to the U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

He is accused of embezzling about $300,000 from Highlands Energy Services.

According to the indictment, employees of the two companies questioned Lester about suspect payments to some vendors, including one called American Products, which was later found to be a fake company Lester invented to conceal the embezzlement, according to Wagner.

In fact, Lester attempted to make it appear American Products was a real company, according to Wagner, first visiting a local supply company near Fresno claiming to be from "Valley Builders," another fictitious company. Then he purchased weather stripping, dead bolts, spring hinges and thresholds, packaging the goods for delivery to Hilghlands and labeling them as coming from American Products in New York.

Lester is accused of sending the goods from a Fresno UPS facility.

The mail fraud charge could carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The money laundering charge could carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, the larger of a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved and three years of supervised release.